Sunday, March 3, 2013

New Pope and Islam Report; senior Al-Azhar University cleric says "the new pope must not attack Islam"

Sounds like another veiled threat from the religion of peace.

From The New York Times March 1 by Harvey Morris

Muslims Seek Dialogue With Next Pope

LONDON — As the Catholic Church’s cardinal electors gather at the Vatican to choose a new pope, Muslim leaders are urging a revival of the often troubled dialogue between the two faiths.

During the papacy of Benedict XVI, relations between the world’s two largest religions were overshadowed by remarks he made in 2006 that were widely condemned as an attack on Islam.

In a speech at Regensburg University in his native Germany, Benedict quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor as saying, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

In the face of protests from the Muslim world, the Vatican said the pope’s remarks had been misinterpreted and that he “deeply regretted” that the speech “sounded offensive to the sensibility of Muslim believers.”

For many in the Muslim world, however, the damage was done and the perception persisted that Benedict was hostile to Islam.

Juan Cole, a U.S. commentator on the Middle East, has suggested that although the pope backed down on some of his positions, “Pope Benedict roiled those relationships with needlessly provocative and sometimes offensive statements about Islam and Muslims.”

Despite the Vatican’s efforts to renew the interfaith dialogue by hosting a meeting with Muslim scholars, hostilities resumed in 2011 when the pope condemned alleged discrimination against Egypt’s Coptic Christians in the wake of a church bombing in Alexandria.

Al Azhar University in Cairo, the center of Islamic learning, froze relations with the Vatican in protest.

Following the pope’s decision to step down, Mahmud Azab, an adviser on interfaith dialogue to the head of Al Azhar, said, “The resumption of ties with the Vatican hinges on the new atmosphere created by the new pope. The initiative is now in the Vatican’s hands.”

Mahmoud Ashour, a senior Al Azhar cleric, insisted that “the new pope must not attack Islam,” according to remarks quoted by Agence France-Presse, the French news agency, and said the two religions should “complete one another, rather than compete.”

A French Muslim leader, meanwhile, has called for a fresh start in the dialogue with a new pope.

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